Thursday, February 19, 2009

10 Biggest Pitfalls Creatives Face When Interviewing for Their First Job...and How to Resolve Them

By Alyssa Choiniere

So, you landed the interview for the perfect job. Congratulations! What's next? Polish up your resume and your new shoes, read over this list, and you're off to take over the creative world.
  1. Pitfall: I've never held a creative job.

    Resolution: Focus on the assets you do have, not your prior employment. If you won an award, made a CD, toured with your band, won a contest, or anything identifying your merit as an artist, you will gain notoriety with your employers.

  1. Pitfall: I don't know how to dress professionally.

    Resolution: You can look dapper without burying your personality in pocket squares. Pick up a suit, but add some details that showcase your creativity, like a funky tie, a quirky necklace, or an eye-catching color. Go for the “polished but precocious” look if you feel like a mannequin wearing a suit.

  1. Pitfall: I don't know how to play a professional role.

    Resolution: Be impressive in the interview, but be yourself, too. Focus on articulating your ideas honestly, and being respectful, but don't be afraid to let your true creative nature shine through.

  1. Pitfall: I'm worried they might think I'm too eccentric.

    Resolution: There's nothing wrong with adding a little flavor to the workplace. And creatives are allowed to be a little odd sometimes. Look at Quentin Tarantino, and Tom Cruise! They made it far, even from left field.

  1. Pitfall: How can I prove myself at the interview?

    Resolution: Focus on the positives. If you were just fired from McDonald's, don't worry about it. What did you do in your time out of employment? Create a new clothing line? Dabble with impressionism? Place the focal point of the interviewer on the aspects of the job that relate directly to the position.

  1. Pitfall: I don't have any professional work experience.

    Resolution: Don't be discouraged by a blank “employment” section on your resume. Find things to fill the other sections, such as volunteer work, awards, achievements, education, extracurriculars, etc.

  1. Pitfall: My prior experience has been unpaid.

    Resolution: Good! A perfect filler for your volunteer section. This is not negative. It shows that you are passionate about your work, and that you value your abilities and are now moving up in the world.

  1. Pitfall: I'm just really nervous.

    Resolution: First times are often nerve wracking. But, just believe in your own success, and fake some confidence, if you have to. They will know you are worth their time if you show them, by displaying some charisma and sincerity.

  1. Pitfall: I don't know how to answer all those questions.

    Resolution: The classic and most daunting interview question: “Tell me a little bit about yourself,” is really not a trick question. This is your platform, they gave you the stage. Say every single good thing you can possibly think of for yourself, and back it up with fact. Make a list before the interview.

  1. Pitfall: I don't have a degree.

    Resolution: So, in the four years that they spent in school, you were out expressing your creativity, right? You have a head start. If they are willing to interview you without a degree, then it should not be a concern.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finding a Product Design Internship

By Amanda Brandon

Interested in product design? Looking for an internship? Here are some tips for finding an internship in the product design field.

1. Check with your school. They usually have a bank of companies with annual internship programs. These are often very industry-specific and very competitive. Be sure your skills meet the requirements of the internship before applying.

2. Product design encompasses many different industries. Focus on the industries you want to work in and compile a list of companies who produce the products you want to design.

3. Once you have your list, start researching the companies to see if they offer internships. If you cannot find formal information, find a contact in the company to propose an internship. You may not get paid, but you will get valuable experience.

4. Connect with industry professionals through tradeshows and conferences. These networking events are great avenues for making contacts. Contact these people about internships. Remind them of where you met them and what you discussed. You’re much more likely to get an interview this way.

5. You may have to leave your college or hometown to complete an internship, so be prepared financially to make a move for the short-term to another city (possibly long-term should the internship turn into a real job).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Five Tips for Your Online Presence as a Creative Professional

By Amanda Brandon

So much of a creative professional’s work is done in the online arena. As media budgets are cut to the bones, businesses are seeking solutions via the cost-effective World Wide Web. What can you do to establish yourself online? Here are five tips:

1. Get a website. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Work through one of the many web hosting companies such as or Yahoo! Small Business. These online services offer you great tools at a minimal charge. They even have very simple site building tools to help you set it up in an afternoon or less.

2. Sell yourself via your website. Your website is going to be your number one marketing tool. Make sure your links work. Use clear, crisp copy. Be sure your contact information is prevalent.

3. Online samples are must. Every creative professional knows prospects want to see their work before they offer a job or project. Make it easy by creating an online portfolio via your website. You can upload documents to your site in PDF format.

4. Keep your site up-to-date and error-free. Be sure to review your web site at least a couple of times a month. You may have new samples to add. Read your copy from time to time to make sure you don’t have typos. These little errors speak a thousand words about your quality of work. Make sure you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with typos or poor spelling.

5. Keep your message simple online. Whether in an e-mail to a prospective employer or client, your qualifications have to be clearly stated in writing. Writing must be simple to communicate your message. Tailor your messages to the job or project you are seeking. Prospective employers or clients get tons of email. Make your stand out from the crowd with to-the-point messaging.

6. Join Online Artist Networks. A good way to get your name out there is to join creative websites like DeviantArt or to collaborate with artists, display your work, and get your name out in the community. Work together with other artists, and getting to know them can really help when you go to sell your work, find a job, or hold an event.

Establishing your online presence takes some time, but just like your resume or portfolio, it’s important to your success. Take the time now to reap the benefits later.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Is Music School Right For You?

By Amanda Brandon

So, you love music. You want to make a career of it. How do you do this? Well, there’s the old-fashioned grassroots “get out and tour” route. And then there’s the go to school route. Only you can decide which is right for you, but here are some tips for picking a music school.

Decide what you want to do in music. If you have dreams of being a concert pianist, it’s probably a good idea to get classical training at a top-notch music school. If you want to work on video game soundtracks, you’ll want to find a program that offers this specific type of education.

Find someone who does what you want to do. Interview that person. Find out how they got their start. Ask them what school they attended. Get real advice on what the wish they had done differently when it came to choosing a music school.

The program has to match your desired job. It’s fine to go to music school, but if you want to make a career of it, you’ll have to go get specific instruction in your chosen discipline.

Don’t just choose a school based on reputation. Choose one based on what you want to do. Let’s say you want to be a music teacher. You’ll need to get an education certification in addition to formal music training. Find out what tools they offer to get you certified before entering the workforce.

Think about cost. It costs money to go to music school. Not only are you shopping for a fantastic program, but you’re looking for something you can afford. Be sure to check out what scholarships and other aid are available.

What are the admission requirements? Do you have to audition? Do you have to have a portfolio? Certain prerequisites? Recommendations? Minimum requirements such as GPA, test scores, etc?

Visit the school. Set up an interview with key people at the school, so you get a real look at what the school will offer you. Be sure it’s an environment you can be creative in. Talk to other students in similar disciplines.

With these tips, you should be able to start your music school search. Remember, choose the school based on how it can enhance your career.